When you talk with a member of a Franklin County 4-H club you learn 4-H often is a family tradition and close family ties play a huge role in the life a 4-H club member.
Often a project reflects something a grandparent has done, such as being a good seamstress or gardener.
For fourth-year 4-Her and member of the Hilltoppers 4-H Club Karley Hall, a grandparent's need was the start of a visual arts project.
After her judging round at the 4-H General Show on Saturday, the West Frankfort girl said her crazy hat project started when her grandmother, Dorothy Burkitt, needed a crazy hat for a meeting of church ladies.
Hall got to work and designed a hat around many of her grandmother's interests and talents.
"She is really into sewing," Hall said. That interest formed part of the basis of the crazy hat.
The entire crazy hat project has a purpose; Hall said it basically reflects the interests of her grandmother.
Hall's entries at this year's 4-H Fair are not limited to visual arts.
She also is exhibiting flowers and has entered a floral arrangement of dried flowers, too.
Hall said contrary to what many believe, 4-H is not limited to the young people living in the rural areas.
"Lots of my friends in town are members," she said, and she noted the largest concentration for 4-H club members is Chicago.
Hall credits 4-H with bringing her from being shy to becoming an assertive public speaker.
Through 4-H, she said, "I'm into public speaking."
She has been to Springfield on behalf of 4-H to speak to legislators concerning 4-H funding.
The General Show brought Franklin County youth to an exhibition hall at the 4-H Fairground near Rend Lake College throughout the day on Saturday. The exhibition area was warm with large fans cooling the building; hot but not sweltering as it was last year.
Parents and grandparents and young siblings anxious for the day when they can become a 4-Her — sat on the sidelines while judging was underway.
General Show is nearly unlimited in the range of interests a 4-H member can exhibit.
Luke Prior, a fourth-year member of 4-H, hanging out with the Sunset Spurs, earned an "A" rating on his electrical project showing how to wire a 4-way switch.
The project has a very practical aspect, Prior explains. You can wire a home so switches at the front door, back door and garage can control a light or set of lights.
It is a convenience and a safety design.
Page 2 of 2 - Prior, a 13-year-old Ewing youth, said 4-H is important to him because he gets to know a lot of people.
Showing his electrical project was not the first show for him at this year's fair, and not the last.
He has projects in food, the dog show and fowl.
In the past he has exhibited horses, too. This year he did not participate at the Sunday horse show.
Working with a grandfather on his 4-H project is an important part of 4-H for Benton youth Neal Carlton, a member of the Independent Indians.
He exhibited garden produce and walked away smiling as his project received a rating of "A."
While gardening with his grandfather is important to Carlton, 4-H also gives him an other opportunity.
"I get to hang out with others who do things I like to do," he said.
Carlton said he likes "anything outdoors."